Have dog, will travel

Have dog, will travel

With the arrival of our new puppy, Willow, and our family’s love of travel, I’ve suddenly realised we have a lot to learn about travelling with our new family member. So I was delighted to connect with guest blogger Amber Kingsley who’s a US-based writer, blogger, animal lover and expert on pets and pet care. Here she shares her wisdom about all things doggie-travel.

For some reason, there’s a number of animal activists out there that discount the many benefits of crate training a dog as they are clinging to one, single, negative consequence – they compare it to being in jail or prison. They point to abusive crate training methods and dogs being left inside for extended periods of time – but that’s on the owner – not the animal.

The truth is, dogs are “den” animals by nature and the vast majority of them consider their crate as a safe and comfy home. For ventilation and travel purposes, the door does resemble a cage, but that doesn’t mean you have to close and lock it every time they enter. For all intents and purposes, a crate is really a dog house with a handle, which makes it perfect for traveling.

Training Tips

Crate training is actually a relatively easy process and puppies will usually take to these temporary spaces pretty quickly. You can use a command to associate when you’d like your precious pooch to go inside, something like “go to bed” or “get inside.” But for puppies, you should just start out by having the crate in a common space and letting them explore it on their own terms.

travelling with a dog

Toys and Treats

The easiest way to get a dog or puppy into a crate is to put toys nearby and inside, including treats. Their crate should also have nice, comfortable bedding and as an added incentive to get them hanging out in their new home. Another way to get them inside is to add something with your scent, perhaps an old T-shirt or sock. This familiarity may have them sleeping inside with little or no training from you.

Accustomed and Commands

Obviously you should never force an animal into a crate, let them start out slowly and wait to close the door, training them first to get in and out by using a command, before latching them inside. Once they have learned the basics of entering and exiting, start closing the door for short periods of time. Try five minutes at first and remain in direct sight.

Work your way up to longer periods of time every day when you close the door and eventually you’ll be able to leave the room. As puppies, they may whine and whimper a little bit at first, but eventually they’ll be completely comfortable inside their “den.”travelling with a dog

Choosing The Right Crate

Some people have an animal crate for the express purpose of taking their pet from point A to B, visits to the veterinarian’s office for example. But if you’re planning on vacationing with your pet or taking them on long journeys, evening flying in an airplane, you’ll want one that’s specifically designed for traveling. The simple rule of thumb for any crate is that it should be large enough for them (when fully grown) to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably.

Crates specifically designed for travel have added features more basic models often don’t offer, things like handling bars on the sides and added bowls that are refillable without opening the door. If your dog will be using the crate to fly with you on a holiday, these extras will make it easier for airline staff to care for them during your journey.

Amber Kingsley is a freelance writer whom has donated countless hours supporting her local shelter within operations and outreach.  She has spent most of her research with writing about animals; food, health and training related.